Learning to Leave the Baggage Behind

Arriving into the International Arrival Hall in Taoyuan Airport, Taipei, I was carting two carry-ons and two 50 lb rolling suitcases. This hefty load seemed a lot, especially toting it yourself. However, in the sense of moving, it was pretty reasonable. What was not so practical was the other heavier baggage I had brought with me.

It seems quite easy to forget with all the carefully selected and groomed social media posts that almost everyone carries a certain past with them: trial and errors, mistakes, accidents, would’ve-should’ve-and-could’ve, and just plain misfortunes. After a while, these add up to immeasurable burdens seemingly out of nowhere.

When I arrived, it seemed to have gotten packed with everything else I owned. It lingered on sweaters, nestled into the crevices of my shoes, and made its way across land and sea with me.

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To friends and family back home, my rapid decision to move abroad seemed as if I was running away from my current situation. In reality, it was far from running away. It was a conscious and deliberate decision that what I was doing was not what I wanted and it was not worth one more day of my time to continue. That’s not running away; it’s being proactive. Taking life into my own hands. And I can tell you quite certainly that running away is near impossible, that baggage will most definitely travel with you.

So here I was, ready to throw myself into a new experience for the sake of mixing things up, hoping to find a closer image of what I wanted. But how do you commit 100 percent of yourself to a new experience, if a good percentage of you is made up of unnecessary and even harmful baggage? What I’ve learned in the past year and a half is that you never leave that baggage behind. It’ll be with you forever, but if you convert it, log it, file it, tuck it into knowledge, then the physical burden of that baggage soon goes away. The goal of leaving baggage behind is to remove the load but to keep the memories, the lessons, and the achievements of knowing you overcame these obstacles with you at all times.

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If you find yourself in a situation that is less than ideal, don’t settle! Forget what others might think and go on an any sort of adventure. Will you fall madly in love with that new course? I don’t know, but I can tell you that you’ll discover more of what you want and don’t want in life. It might be a beautiful or a horrible next year, who can say? But that year will be a year you discover something new, a year you at least break away from your past predicament. You’ll be able to show that you can take control over what you do and still somehow manage to survive. Should there be a time when you need to do it again, you can and you will.

Don’t waste a single day living in a life that you aren’t fully happy with. And while on the journey, let the experience help you shed some of your physical baggage: a negative blouse in exchange for a plate of authentic Italian pasta, a troubled pair of socks for the clearest beach in the world, or a faded, routinely worn jacket for a dance among locals. Several new experiences later, none of that baggage will be missed.

Cortona, Italy

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